Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big Events: More "Night of the Owls," Less "AvX"


A big event should be something that the publisher is proud of and the fans should crave.  These are the pay-per-view events of the respective comic universes.  The stories should be inspiring and exceptional, the art detailed and fantastic, and most important of all, it should be something that loyal fans of the company will love and the event will further cement their support for the publisher.  Unfortunately, it hasn't been that way for awhile.  I personally haven't enjoyed any of Marvel's big events since "Civil War," and it seems as though a fair chunk of fans agree.  In fact, many go a step further and loathed "Civil War."  To make matters worse, the most recent event ("Avengers vs X-Men") is being bashed by a big majority of comic fans I chat with, and I have to say I agree with their fading interest in the story.  However, over at DC, "Night of Owls" has been a huge success, generating lots of love and finding a fun way to mesh into other titles.  They're both big events, but what is it that makes "Avengers vs X-Men" so terribly mediocre and "Night of the Owls"such a hit?

The Scale
I know this might be hard to swallow for Marvel, but not every big event needs to have massive scale or such drastic odds.  The Phoenix is coming (for the millionth time) and the world might be destroyed if Hope can't harness the power!  Do you really think the Earth will be destroyed this time around?  And, if Marvel's true objective is as simple as giving the fans some hero versus hero encounters, then why not just give us "Contest of Champions III?"  After all, that's the friggin' premise of the book and it does so without trying to come off as some grand event.  Sure, this event is appealing for longtime fans of Phoenix or people who have grown fond of Hope, but aside from that, we're four issues in and quite literally nothing has happened to make us give a damn.  To call that unfortunate would be a pretty big understatement.  On top of that, the primary titles alone don't suffice if you want a better grasp on the story.  The tie-ins are mandatory for extra details.  Otherwise, Cap doesn't seem like all that fantastic of a tactician if you're limited to his actions in AvX #1.  "Hey Wolverine, Phoenix is bad, right?  Alright, let's go steal that girl."

"Night of the Owls" has a very simple premise that allows it to seep into other books without feeling forced.  The Court of the Owls want to re-take Gotham, so they're sending out a flood of assassins to take out a host of targets.  Which will live?  Which will die?  How will Batman stop them?  This isn't shoving all of the characters into one big shindig while they're still off doing other matters in other titles.  Instead, it has managed to fit organically into every title it impacts (in this case: everyone in Gotham).  These tie-ins have a clear objective: prevent the Talon from killing his/her target.  While none have truly been great, so far each has been quite fun and it's enjoyable seeing how the assorted heroes would handle facing the regenerating assassins.  More importantly, they're not mandatory if you want to understand the majority of the main story.

The Creative Team
No, I'm not going to jump on the Bendis hate train.  While I'm not a fan of most of his recent work, there's no denying his time with Daredevil, the earlier work with New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man was some  quality material.  So, credit where it's due.  Then we have some other big names in Marvel (Aaron, Brubaker, JRJR), but despite these being the "heavy hitters" of the company, this event (just like the handful before it), don't stand out as anything exceptional.  Like I said before, we're already 4 issues into AvX and not much has happened to push the story forward.  And, seeing as I'm on a budget, the $3.99 price tag per issue means it's growing costly to stick around only to be continually letdown.  John Romita Jr's art is something that has grown on me a lot over the years.  I wasn't a huge fan at first, but I've come to really love and appreciate his incredibly unique style in many titles.  However, there's a significant lack of detail here, especially when a handful of characters share a panel.  This is a big-freaking-event and it should look great and it should keep our interest.  It shouldn't appear sloppy and move at a snail's pace.

It's widely agreed upon that Snyder and Capullo have been dominating with Batman.  Introducing the Owls was a tricky move and risked making WTF-worthy retcons to Gotham's history, however, they completely pulled it off.  Their existence is believable and is continually fleshed out as we carry on in the event.  To make matters even more impressive, almost every issue we get an interesting set of facts about the history of Wayne's family or the city itself.

What To Do?
In my eyes, Marvel is suffering from a quantity versus quality issue.  They're pumping out a lot of events, but none will really go down as a must-read story, and as a long-time Marvel fan, that's a huge disappointment.  There's no quota for big events, so perhaps it would just be best if Marvel took a step back and began reducing the volume of these stories and treated each one as their next masterpiece.  Yes, sales are incredible for them (how could the majority not want to pick up a book with Wolverine and Cap fighting on the cover?), but at the same rate, pulling in more cash doesn't mean all of that green should blind them from a pretty loud outcry from their loyal fans.  A big event doesn't need to feel big, and "Night of the Owls" is proof of this.  Now, this isn't to say DC isn't guilty of the same mistake and Marvel has never succeeded with "smaller" big events (Spider Island, Messiah CompleX).

What do you think?  Do you agree that Marvel needs to cool down with the big events and focus on fewer but better stories?  Or, are you loving AvX and think I'm a fool for believing otherwise?  And, do you agree or disagree that "Night of the Owls" should be a standard for more events?

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